Instead of Tracy's earlier sleuth, Reggie Brett, the barrister/detective in this engrossing mystery is Claude Bruce. He's just as clever as Brett and just as amused at the bungling single-mindedness of Scotland Yard, but less self-confident and not so inclined to Sherlock Holmes-style deductions.
The case involves a friend of his, Sir Charles Dyke, whose wife has unaccountably disappeared — coincidentally, just after Bruce himself encountered her at a train station. What became of her? Bruce thinks she's dead. He follows many twists and turns before discovering the truth.
Tracy throws out clues and red herrings with abandon. Have fun!
I have a prejudice against novels that reveal the bad guys at the outset, unless there's plenty of action. This one moves slowly, with lots of exposition not essential to the plot. Moreover, the heroine — for all we're told she's clever and learned — is a nitwit, and most of the other characters dull, unsympathetic and unrealistic.
The young woman, the mainstay of her blind, but very rich father, is being blackmailed, and behaves stupidly about it. Her father, an important politician before losing his sight, an eminent antiquarian and supposedly brilliantly (if mysteriously) still transacting business worth a fortune, despite his handicap, is nevertheless presented as a wretched, helpless, self-pitying old man, who is readily taken in by lies about his devoted and previously beloved daughter, while never believing any ugly tales about his wife.
Nobody except his perfidious wife (the evil stepmother) and the principal villain ever seems to take advantage of the old man's enormous wealth, and though we're told the latter has some hold over her, too, we're never told what it is. Really an unsatisfactory book.
Reggie Brett, barrister turned detective, is on the job again in this thoroughly excellent mystery/thriller. This time he's on the trail of a murderous group of diamond thieves and a missing Foreign Office secretary, which takes him from London to Paris, Marseilles and Palermo. I liked this one even more than the first Brett book, "The Stowmarket Mystery." The criminals are clever, the stakes are high and the action rapid and exciting.
Melodrama, pure and simple. The upright man from the West, the rich and cunning seducer, the lovely maiden. Tracy has done much better work.